The Do’s and Don’ts of Ear Irrigation

Earwax buildup can be a serious problem when it comes to your overall hearing health. Though earwax, also known as cerumen, is a good, healthy, and important safeguard protecting the fragile parts of your ear against bacteria and debris, in some cases, you really can have too much of a good thing. Excessive buildup can muffle your hearing, cause earaches, or even lead to an infection if not removed. Your ear has a remarkable ability to clean itself, causing most doctors to urge patients to put down the cotton swabs and let your earwax remove itself, but in some scenarios, the buildup becomes too severe to ignore. In these cases, you or a physician can irrigate the ear by inserting liquid to soften and remove the blockage, but most medical professionals would advise against doing it yourself. With the risk of puncturing an eardrum, worsening the blockage, or pain, understanding the do’s and don’ts of ear irrigation can save you from any further complications.


  • Ensure that your symptoms are due to excessive earwax buildup. Irrigating your ears when there is no problematic buildup can lead to irritation in the inner ear and can cause an infection that you may be attempting to treat. Also, some patients are prone to excessive wax production as a natural and healthy bodily function with no complications. Seek out medical advice to be certain of your condition.
  • Seek out other alternatives before ear irrigation, such as softener drops to avoid unnecessary doctor’s visits or possible risks.
  • If you must perform ear irrigation at home, follow the instructions and appropriate steps from a proper at-home kit designed for the job. This is your hearing health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Make sure to use water at room temperature. Water that is too cold or too hot may lead to dizziness or potential burns.
  • Repeat the procedure a couple of times. Some patients may have to repeat the procedure up to 5 times to see results. If after 5 times there is no positive change, seek out the advice of a medical professional for more options.


  • Don’t ignore medical advice when attempting to remove earwax. Some conditions such as otitis externa (Swimmer’s ear), middle ear disease, or a history of eardrum surgery can raise your risk of eardrum perforation and damage during irrigation, which can inform doctors about alternative treatment options.
  • Medical professionals would advise against at-home ear irrigation, but If using an at-home irrigation kit, use caution when inserting the syringe inside the ear canal. Inserting a syringe too far can puncture the eardrum and insert water into the middle ear.
  • Don’t repeat the procedure if you are experiencing symptoms such as sudden pain, nausea, or dizziness after irrigating your ear. These can be signs that you may have caused some damage to the fragile parts of your ear and may require additional medical assistance or an alternative treatment.
  • Don’t give up! A clean bill of hearing health is within reach with the help of a health care provider.


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